A teachers’ strike in schools in Buenos Aires Province today has had the side effect of a lot of confusion and outrage over school meals, whether they’ll be provided, and who’s to pay for them. Schools that usually receive money per child provided with a meal (AR $16.40 for lunch and AR $10.60 for breakfast or snack) have been left uncertain as to whether this will be paid fo,r and if so, by whom. The schools are closed for teaching, but some open their lunch halls to feed students anyway, and in this case, it’s unclear whether the money will be paid by the provincial government as usual.
The Chivilcoy School Council sent out a letter advising that the provision of school meals would not be guaranteed today in light of the strike and the speculation that the Social Development Ministry will not reimburse the costs as usual. In March, the strike days were not paid, and the schools ended up in debt after feeding their students. At the end of April, they were reimbursed for 89 percent of the costs. Despite this, Leticia Berdugo, a member of the school council who signed the letter, is quoted as saying: “The food is guaranteed but we are afraid that Social Development won’t pay.” The situation remains unclear.
In Chivilcoy 8000 children receive these meals, and the uncertainty over whether they’ll be available on strike days has caused a great deal of controversy. In theory, if the schools are not holding classes but continue to serve food, they should receive the money as usual. However, according to Berdugo, if the civil servants check whether the school is open in the morning and find it closed, it will be registered as such even if the cafeteria opens to feed children in the afternoon, and the school does not officially qualify to receive the funds.
One can only hope that kids find their way out of the cross hairs as school boards, the institutions themselves and the Social Development Ministry continue debating who will pick up the check.